Can freedom survive in a society in which most citizens believe that human beings, who are supposed to have inalienable rights, are merely material beings inhabiting a universe of purely material and efficient causality?
John Adams famously said that our Constitution was made “only for a moral and religious people and is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Was he right?
Perhaps the first thing to note is that our Constitution is, to borrow a phrase from Hayek, a “constitution of liberty.” Under it, the power of government over the people is checked and limited, and the people enjoy a large measure of freedom. But freedom can, of course, be used for good or for ill. Freedom can be used wisely or irresponsibly.
Like the other Founding Fathers, Adams recognized that freedom does not guarantee virtue; yet the maintenance of freedom and the cultivation of its cultural conditions require virtue. Freedom itself is placed in dire jeopardy when free people become corrupt or foolish. It is also put at risk when fear, absent the virtue of courage, induces them to abandon freedom for the sake of security—be it economic or physical.
So, virtue is one cultural condition of freedom, and it is necessary to the establishment and preservation of freedom’s other cultural conditions. Beyond that, there are other social goods—essential aspects of the common good of any political society—that require virtue among the people. When freedom degenerates into what the Founders called “license”—a counterfeit of true freedom—these goods, too, are placed in grave peril.
All of this may be common sense, but it was a sense that was by no means common when Adams and his fellow Founders launched what they themselves understood to be an “experiment” in republican government and ordered liberty. And it is a common sense that, as the conditions of contemporary intellectual life have made all too clear, can be forgotten. Indeed, it is a common sense that can be derided and mocked by people who regard themselves as too worldly, sophisticated, and enlightened to believe in things like morality and virtue. So in the face of modern nihilism (sometimes, paradoxically, masquerading as the most high-minded moralism) the defense of Adams’s proposition takes on a kind of urgency.
Is Religion Necessary for Morality?
Let’s look at Adams’s proposition regarding virtue in the context in which he asserted it. Here are his words:
But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practicing iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in the rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, and gallantry [by which Adams evidently meant sexual license] would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
Among those intelligent, honest, and humble enough not to think themselves too sophisticated to agree with Adams that the common good and freedom itself depend on virtue, some will say, “Well, yes, virtue surely is required, but individuals—and even nations—can be virtuous even if they are not religious.” So Adams, they maintain, should have said, “Our Constitution was made for a moral people, whether or not they are religious.”
Are they right?
Adams was hardly alone among the Founders in viewing morality and religion as required for the success of their experiment with a constitution of liberty. In his Farewell Address, George Washington famously said:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.
So far, Washington has basically said what Adams said. But the Father of our Nation then turned specifically to the question whether we, as a nation, could get along without religion:
Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
I think this answer—which we have reason to believe was drafted by Alexander Hamilton and, I suspect, refers to Hamilton’s political adversary Thomas Jefferson—is a good answer, though more can and should be said.
Personal vs. National Morality
The answer concedes that in the case of particular individuals, reason can indeed support virtue even in the absence of what he calls “religious principle.” But he supposes that such persons are rare. Their minds are of a peculiar structure, and they are among the few who, on top of that, have had the benefit of a refined education. What he calls “national morality” cannot be sustained by a few such people, even if they exist. Reason itself, and experience, teach us not to pin our hopes on virtue ungrounded in, or unsupported by, faith in God. Washington, like Adams, believed that reason, given man’s fallen condition, was a bit too uncertain a trumpet, and that human passions of the sort that compete with virtues and lead us into error and sin are too powerful for reason to reliably prevail over them.
Washington and Adams were, to be sure, men of the Enlightenment—believers in the power of reason. And their Constitution was one that would test whether “societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force,” to quote Hamilton’s famous line from the first Federalist Paper. What’s more, they certainly did not believe, as many ignorant people today seem to believe, that faith is the enemy of reason. But they did believe in the power and importance of faith and, indeed, in the harmony of faith and reason, when faith and reason are rightly understood.
So those of us who hold, as Adams and Washington held, that ours is a Constitution made for a moral and religious people, need not and should not deny that there are virtuous people, good citizens, among those of our neighbors who profess no religion, or for whom religious belief only hovers in the background of their consciousness. Many do muster the moral resources to avoid falling into the vices that Adams and Washington rightly viewed as fatal, should they become widespread, to a free society. Some are among those citizens whose selflessness and patriotism would enable them to volunteer for missions in which they might give what Lincoln described as “the last full measure of devotion.”
And yet, dare we suppose that liberty-sustaining virtues can survive if the great mass of people over a great expanse of time lose or abandon a sense of the transcendent, the spiritual, the more-than-merely-human source of meaning and value? That is a proposition that we should, as Washington warned, “indulge with caution.”
The Moral Heart of the American Constitution
There is an additional reason for caution—a reason that goes to the distinctive nature of the American constitution of liberty. The Constitution bequeathed to us by men like Washington, Adams, and Jefferson effectuates a particular understanding of political order—one set forth with admirable clarity and candor in the Declaration of Independence. The moral heart of that understanding is the idea of God-given natural human rights.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The American proposition is that the basic rights that it is government’s highest duty to protect and strict obligation to respect are not the gifts of kings or presidents, parliaments or congresses—or courts. They are not given to us by any human power; so no merely human power may legitimately transgress them or take them away. It is the duty of human government, rather, to protect and respect them.
Now this is not an affirmation that can be made only by Christians and Jews—heirs of the Biblical tradition of ethical monotheism. Certainly Muslims, Sikhs, Baha’is, and people of other traditions of faith can make it. Even a Deist (in the old-fashioned sense, not the contemporary one) can make it. Jefferson, after all, speaking of slavery, said “I tremble for my country when I consider that God is just, and His justice will not sleep forever.” (Jefferson said this despite being a slaveowner—a fact that all college students today know, even if they know nothing else about Jefferson.)
But what about the non-theists?
Non-Theism, Materialism, and Transcendence
Well, there are non-theists and there are non-theists. There are non-theistic traditions (such as some forms of Buddhism) that recognize the spiritual nature of man. Typically, these traditions, though God is not part of the picture, assume the existence of transcendent reality in an economy in which the human person is subject to moral requirements and responsible for his actions. As more-than-merely-material creatures, human beings can have fundamental dignity—even sanctity—and be the subjects of rights and duties.
But things get murkier—quickly—when we consider forms of atheism that reject the transcendent and spiritual altogether, supposing that human beings are random products of meaningless forces being pushed around in a universe governed exclusively by material and efficient causes. In such a universe, human beings cannot truly have freedom of the will or capacities for more than merely instrumental rationality. How such creatures could possess dignity—much less sanctity—and be the bearers of unalienable natural rights is, to say the least, less than clear.
Given the sometimes extreme stresses and strains that inevitably come into the lives of nations as well as individuals, can we confidently say that the conditions of constitutional freedom—and thus freedom itself—would survive where the great mass of citizens had settled into believing that human beings, supposed subjects of inalienable rights, are merely material beings inhabiting a universe of purely material and efficient causality? That, it seems to me, is a proposition that should be indulged only with the very greatest caution.
Robert P. George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, and the Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.
The Capitol rotunda in Springfield, Ill., where Democrats control both chambers of the legislature. Credit Andrew A. Nelles for The New York Times
A Wealthy Governor and His
Friends Are Remaking Illinois
Unprecedented political spending helped elect a fresh-faced
financier. But his ideological vision has unsettled many in the state.
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORENOV. 29, 2015
The richest man in Illinois does not often give speeches. But on a warm spring day two years ago, Kenneth C. Griffin, the billionaire founder of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, rose before a black-tie dinner of the Economic Club of Chicago to deliver an urgent plea to the city’s elite.
They had stood silently, Mr. Griffin told them, as politicians spent too much and drove businesses and jobs from the state. They had refused to help those who would take on the reigning powers in the Illinois Capitol. “It is time for us to do something,” he implored.
Their response came quickly. In the months since, Mr. Griffin and a small group of rich supporters — not just from Chicago, but also from New York City and Los Angeles, southern Florida and Texas — have poured tens of millions of dollars into the state, a concentration of political money without precedent in Illinois history.
Their wealth has forcefully shifted the state’s balance of power. Last year, the families helped elect as governor Bruce Rauner, a Griffin friend and former private equity executive from the Chicago suburbs, who estimates his own fortune at more than $500 million. Now they are rallying behind Mr. Rauner’s agenda: to cut spending and overhaul the state’s pension system, impose term limits and weaken public employee unions.
“It was clear that they wanted to change the power structure, change the way business was conducted and change the status quo,” said Andy Shaw, an acquaintance of Mr. Rauner’s and the president of the Better Government Association, a nonpartisan state watchdog group that received donations from Mr. Rauner before he ran.
The rich families remaking Illinois are among a small group around the country who have channeled their extraordinary wealth into political power, taking advantage of regulatory, legal and cultural shifts that have carved new paths for infusing money into campaigns. Economic winners in an age of rising inequality, operating largely out of public view, they are reshaping government with fortunes so large as to defy the ordinary financial scale of politics. In the 2016 presidential race, a New York Times analysis found last month, just 158 families had provided nearly half of the early campaign money.
Articles in this series examine America’s growing concentration of wealth and its consequences for government and politics.
The Families Funding the 2016 Presidential ElectionOCT. 10, 2015
A Wealthy Governor and His Friends Are Remaking IllinoisNOV. 29, 2015
Many of those giving, like Mr. Griffin, come from the world of finance, an industry that has yielded more of the new political wealth than any other. The Florida-based leveraged-buyout pioneer John Childs, the private equity investor Sam Zell and Paul Singer, a prominent New York hedge fund manager, all helped elect Mr. Rauner, as did Richard Uihlein, a conservative businessman from the Chicago suburbs.
Most of them lean Republican; some are Democrats. But to a remarkable degree, their philosophies are becoming part of a widely adopted blueprint for public officials around the country: Critical of the power of unions, many are also determined to reduce spending and taxation, and are skeptical of government-led efforts to mitigate the growing gap between the rich and everyone else.
“There was never so much money behind these efforts,” said Iris J. Lav, formerly a senior adviser at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning economic think tank in Washington.
“It has gotten much stronger in the last five or six years,” Ms. Lav continued. “There’s the sense of an opening, of a discontent with the old model. It’s about social insurance, the social compact — who’s responsible for whom?”
Illinois was fertile ground for the movement. Four of the state’s last 10 governors have gone to jail. Decades of mismanagement by state officials of both parties have left Illinois with more than $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, among the most of any state. Public employee unions, assured that the state’s Constitution made their retirement benefits untouchable, focused on lobbying for other spending. By last year, the state owed billions more in unpaid bills.
And tax increases are particularly difficult in Illinois, where other state constitutional provisions ban raising taxes solely on the rich. A temporary income tax boost presided over by the state’s last Democratic governor, Pat Quinn, was resented by many voters.
Bruce Rauner, sworn into office as the governor of Illinois in January. Credit Seth Perlman/Associated Press
The future governor was among those fuming. Around Chicago, Mr. Rauner, a Republican, was known for dashing off angry, blind-copied emails about the state’s fiscal woes to a long list of fellow businessmen and political leaders. Some of those who coalesced around his campaign, like Mr. Griffin, had also backed Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, a Democrat, in his battles with teachers’ unions. Others had collaborated on endeavors including Chicago’s Olympic bid, or the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, a group of wealthy and politically active business leaders. (Mr. Rauner, Mr. Griffin and other supporters declined requests for interviews.)
“They’re not what you would call the traditional corporate world,” said William M. Daley, a Chicago hedge fund executive and former chief of staff to President Obama, who served on Mr. Rauner’s transition team. “They come with a very political and philosophical bent.”
Mr. Daley added, “I think they believe philosophically in that business mentality and that strong public unions are a root of all evil in governing places like Illinois or Chicago and New York and California.”
To bring about a revolution in the Illinois Capitol, in Springfield, Mr. Rauner and his allies have created what amounts to a new campaign economy, in which union money has long been the financial lifeblood of both parties. Contributing millions to his own campaign, Mr. Rauner triggered a state law that removes limits on campaign contributions when a wealthy candidate spends heavily on his or her own race.
The law, intended to limit the influence of the wealthy by providing a level playing field, had the opposite effect: Freed of the restraints, supporters of Mr. Rauner poured millions more into his campaign, breaking state records. About half of the $65 million he spent through last year’s election came from himself and nine other individuals, families or companies they control. Mr. Quinn, the incumbent, spent about $32 million, with many unions making mid-six-figure contributions.
Mr. Rauner’s biggest donor was Mr. Griffin, who gave $5.5 million and put his private plane at Mr. Rauner’s disposal. Mr. Rauner’s allies spent millions on political advocacy groups, research organizations and party committees. The Chicago Sun-Times reversed its no-endorsement policy to back Mr. Rauner, who was a part-owner of the paper before he ran for governor.
“He didn’t have to play by the same rules as other candidates,” said Bill Hyers, the chief strategist to Mr. Quinn. “He just kept on spending.”
Never before in modern Illinois politics had so few people provided so much of the money for campaigns. The size of the average contribution in last year’s general election almost tripled over those made in the previous governor’s race, according to a Times analysis of campaign records collected by Illinois Sunshine, a project of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
Local Republican organizations found themselves flush with cash. Mr. Rauner blanketed the state with ads promising, vaguely, to “shake up Springfield” and slammed Mr. Quinn as an insider beholden to special interests.
A Flood of Money
Bruce Rauner raised more money from a handful of donors in the Illinois governor’s race than previous candidates raised in total. He was the first Republican to win the office in a decade.
Mr. Rauner gave $27.5 million to his own campaign.
Ken Griffin gave $5.5 million.
Sources: The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform; National Institute on Money in State Politics. Figures shown include only money raised before the election.
Attacks on Mr. Rauner’s wealth fell flat, even as he splashed around money in flamboyant ways: Late in the campaign, he drove up to a credit union on Chicago’s predominantly black South Side, depositing $1 million to support small-business loans.
“It had never happened before,” said Otis Monroe, a community activist in Chicago. “We said, ‘If you want black votes, you should invest in African-American-owned initiatives.’ Rauner was the only one who responded.”
On Election Day, Mr. Rauner won every county except Cook County, which encompasses Chicago. That evening, he giddily declared to his supporters: “This is our time. This is a transformational period. We will not accept the status quo. We are going in a new direction — the voters have spoken.”
The eye-popping sums continued to flow in the weeks that followed. On the last day of December, shortly before inauguration, Mr. Rauner, Mr. Griffin and Mr. Uihlein poured an additional $20 million into Mr. Rauner’s campaign committee. The money was intended to help Mr. Rauner beat back union pressure on state lawmakers during the legislative session ahead.
All told, the Griffin family’s contributions to Mr. Rauner through the end of 2014 came to $13.6 million — more than the combined sum donated to Mr. Quinn by 244 labor unions.
For Mr. Rauner, the election results affirmed his agenda to shrink government and make the state more friendly to business.
But voters seemed torn. Along with electing Mr. Rauner, they gave Democrats a supermajority in both houses of the legislature.
They also approved two advisory ballot measures. One proposed an increase in the state’s minimum wage, something Mr. Rauner had told a candidate forum he was “adamantly, adamantly against raising.” Another urged lawmakers to amend the Illinois Constitution to allow a millionaires-only income tax increase, something Mr. Rauner had campaigned against.
Mr. Rauner was undeterred. Immediately after taking office, he unveiled a strikingly ambitious policy agenda, one with a more ideological tinge than even some Republicans had expected.
Along with expected cuts to spending and property taxes, he proposed tort reform; local “right-to-work zones,” where union membership and dues would be voluntary; and a half-dozen constitutional amendments. He sought to bar public unions from making contributions to state lawmakers — state contractors are already barred — and in February issued an executive order prohibiting public employee unions from collecting mandatory fees from state workers who are not members.
Mr. Rauner and his supporters believed such changes were necessary to fix Illinois: Only by disempowering the unions and making the state more hospitable to business, they have argued, can revenue grow fast enough to fix its financial problems.
But despite voters’ deep unhappiness with the direction of the state under Mr. Rauner’s predecessor, they quickly soured on their new governor. Just two months into his term, Mr. Rauner found that his job approval rate was around 36 percent, according to a poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. Almost half of Illinois voters favored either tax increases or a combination of increases and spending cuts to fix the budget.
Mr. Rauner has since signaled he will discuss new revenues as part of a budget deal, but only if the legislature includes some of his union restrictions or other policy changes as part of the deal.
“I’ve been one who thought he misread his mandate,” said David Yepsen, the director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. “People were ready for a change, but the emphasis on attacking the labor movement, that really poisoned the water here.”
The unexpected rift between Mr. Rauner and his constituents echoes a greater divide between the political views of the very wealthy and those of the broader public, one that has taken on new significance as the rich invest more time and money in politics.
Most of the commentators are missing an important point: This guy’s primary cause is to weaken PUBLIC SECTOR unions.
Around the same time that Mr. Rauner began running for governor, a group of researchers based at Northwestern University published findings from the country’s first-ever representative survey of the richest one percent of Americans. The study, known as the Survey of Economically Successful Americans and the Common Good, canvassed a sample of the wealthy from the Chicago area. Those canvassed were granted anonymity to discuss their views candidly.
Their replies were striking. Where merely affluent Americans are more likely to identify as Democrats than as Republicans, the ultrawealthy overwhelmingly leaned right. They are far more likely to raise money for politicians and to have access to them; nearly half had personally contacted one of Illinois’s two United States senators.
Where the general public overwhelmingly supports a high minimum wage, the one percent are broadly opposed. A majority of Americans supported expanding safety-net and retirement programs, while most of the very wealthy opposed them. And while Americans are not enthusiastic about higher taxes generally, they feel strongly that the rich should pay more than they do, and more than everyone else pays.
“Probably the biggest single area of disconnect has to do with social welfare programs,” said Benjamin I. Page, a political scientist at Northwestern University and a co-author of the study. “The other big area has to do with paying for those programs, particularly taxes on high-income and wealthy people.”
Kenneth C. Griffin, left, and Sam Zell, two major donors to Mr. Rauner’s campaign. Credit Left: Fred Prouser/Reuters; Right: Richard Drew/Associated Press
Illinois, Mr. Page added, is “a case study of the disconnect in action — between what average citizens want the government to do and what it does.”
In many states, however, including old union strongholds of the Midwest like Indiana and Ohio, a rising distrust in government has proved a more powerful force in mobilizing voters — particularly with enough money behind it. In Illinois, Mr. Rauner and his allies have responded to the budget impasse with a redoubled, well-financed effort at persuasion.
To encourage Republican lawmakers to stick with him on tough votes, the governor has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to them. In April, ex-Rauner aides set up Turnaround Illinois, a super PAC designed to support state lawmakers who backed his agenda and “oppose those who stand in the way,” according to state filings. The group’s main contributor is Mr. Zell, the Chicago investor and Republican donor, who gave $4 million.
In June, after Mr. Rauner and lawmakers failed to reach a budget deal, Turnaround Illinois spent close to $1 million on television ads assailing Democrats.
The true impact of their financial muscle may not be felt until the legislative elections next fall, in which Mr. Rauner’s allies could again exploit an opening in the campaign finance law to spend unprecedented sums. (The same provision that removed the caps on Mr. Rauner’s campaign lifts them in any legislative race in which a “super PAC” spends more than $100,000. Mr. Rauner’s group has enough money to trigger the law in more than two dozen races.)
Mr. Rauner’s closest supporters hope to elect more Republicans. But some wealthy families, mindful that Democrats are likely to control the legislature for the foreseeable future, have financed an even more ambitious goal: to carve out a new faction of Democrats more willing to reach a compromise with the governor.
That effort has raised more than $14 million, in donations that rival the largest contributions in the presidential campaign. One million dollars came from Helen Zell, Mr. Zell’s wife, and $2 million from the head of a financial firm in which Mr. Rauner is an investor. The largest disclosed contribution came from hundreds of miles beyond Illinois: The former Texas energy trader John Arnold and his wife, Laura, gave $5 million.
Mr. Arnold, a Democrat, declined to be interviewed for this article. But in an essay published last year, he described himself as a counterweight to traditional interest groups like labor unions and corporations.
Immediately after taking office, Mr. Rauner unveiled a strikingly ambitious policy agenda, with a more ideological tinge than even some Republicans expected. Credit Andrew A. Nelles for The New York Times
“One might ask why Laura and I should be able to influence policy decisions just because we have money,” Mr. Arnold wrote. “Were government immune from lobbyists and money, I would agree on the premise of the question. However, government is deeply influenced by special interests.”
His goal, Mr. Arnold wrote, was “to counterbalance these entrenched forces, on the right and the left, by providing policy solutions rooted in objectivity and solid analysis.”
For the moment, Illinois is creaking along, polarized and deeply discontent with its leaders. Five months into the fiscal year, the state has no budget. A combination of court orders and partial appropriations bills has kept the government in operation, but at a level of spending that exceeds the state’s current revenue.
Now, every month, Illinois falls even further behind on its bills. Illinois politicians, on the other hand, are flush as never before.
As of early November, Mr. Rauner and the state’s new super PACs had a combined $36 million available to spend. The state’s 15 best-funded labor union PACs, along with campaign committees controlled by Democratic legislative leaders, had slightly more than half that, but are likely to put in millions more in the months ahead.
Next year’s legislative races promise to be the most expensive in history. And Mr. Rauner, those who know him say, is just getting started.
Said Mr. Shaw, of the Better Government Association, “I think he views this as a very long, long term war.’’
Editors note: Climate change is a hoax! It is another way to tax American Taxpayers. It is the new way for giving government more control of our lives. The important word is control. Obama is told by Congress they are not funding any deal, yet Obama will give away the store and get away with it. Remember these environmentalist scientists have been caught changing data to support the fraud.
Next we will hear to many humans are breathing oxygen in and exhaling carbon dioxide. Breathing will be taxed of regulated in the name of climate change.
Who decides what is good for the world? I want to be on that board!!!!
When will these idiots realize that they can’t play God. God is sovereign above all things including the environment. The Environmentalist can’t control the pollution caused naturally due to volcano’s erupting, earthquakes, tornado’s, droughts, etc. Nature causes more pollution than people.
I guess the question is: what and who considers what pollution can be controlled by government and if the cost and consequences are worth it.
Paris climate talks: French protests turn violent as world leaders gather for key climate change talks
French police clashed with protesters on the streets of Paris overnight as world leaders gathered ahead of key United Nations climate talks.
Police arrest 208 protesters at climate protests
Protesters clash with riot police, pelt bottles
Hollande condemns “scandalous” behaviour
Hollande says they are solely there “to create incidents”
Analysis from Lisa Millar in Paris
Crowds of all ages started gathering early in Place de la Republique but most came with peaceful intentions – people dressed as clowns and penguins, enjoying the camaraderie, eating and drinking.
But shortly before 2pm groups of protesters arrived and began putting on masks and tying scarves across their faces. They accused the government of using the state of emergency to clamp down on the environmental activists.
Hundreds of riot police blocked streets and as groups started marching and leaving the Place de la Republique, the police moved in.
Protesters hurled projectiles at them tainting what had been an otherwise peaceful day. Major environment lobby groups disavowed the actions which took place in the same area where people have left flowers and candles for the victims of the November 13 attacks.
Earlier peaceful protests — including a ‘human chain’ on the streets of the French capital — turned ugly later in the day as a small group of protesters in the Place de la Republique pelted officers with bottles as well as candles that had been left in tribute to the victims of the November 13 Paris attacks.
Police arrested 208 people.
“These disruptive elements have nothing to do with defenders of the environment,” French president Francois Hollande said at an EU-Turkey summit in Brussels.
“They are not there so that the [COP21] talks succeed but are there solely to create incidents.
“It is doubly regrettable, even scandalous, that this happened at the Place de la Republique where flowers and candles have been left in memory of those who were killed by the terrorists’ bullets in the November 13 Paris attacks.”
Earlier thousands of people gathered on the streets of the French capital to form a human chain to send a highly symbolic message to the gathering leaders.
But in the first organised demonstration in the French capital since the attacks, climate protesters of all ages lined the wind-blown streets to link up in a two-kilometre human chain instead of holding a march.
“I hope this time the conference will lead to something solid,” said Denis Diderot, a retired university teacher who joined the demonstration wearing a beret and the Legion d’Honneur.
Some 150 leaders including US president Barack Obama, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. China’s Xi Jinping, India’s Narendra Modi, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin will attend the official start of the UN conference on Monday, tasked with reaching the first truly universal climate pact.
About 2,800 police and soldiers will secure the conference site, and 6,300 others will deploy in Paris, with French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve saying nearly 1,000 people thought to pose security risks had been denied entry into France.
The goal of the climate talks is to limit average global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, perhaps less, over pre-Industrial Revolution levels by curbing fossil fuel emissions blamed for climate change.
Religious leaders in Paris also delivered petitions to the UN summit organisers, with almost 1.8 million signatures from people around the world demanding world leaders take immediate climate action.
In the past week, the UN’s weather body said the average global temperature for the year 2015 was set to rise 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, halfway towards the top end of the Paris conference’s attempted limit.
Voluntary carbon-curbing pledges submitted by nations to bolster the Paris pact, even if fully adhered to, put Earth on track for warming of 2.7-3.5 degrees Celsius, according to UN climate chief Christian Figueres.
Mr Hollande has warned of obstacles ahead for the 195 nations seeking new limits on heat-trapping gas emissions from 2020.
Potential stumbling blocks in Paris are abound, particularly in regards to financing for climate-vulnerable countries, scrutiny of commitments to curb greenhouse gases and even the legal status of the accord.
The last attempt to forge a global deal — the ill-tempered 2009 Copenhagen summit — foundered upon divisions between rich and poor countries
Editors Note: I guess humans should pay a tax on breathing since we exhale carbon dioxide. Humans who drink water or eat any food, should pay a tax because that promotes waste from the body which hurts the environment.
This new set of government intervention in your life is nothing more than a method of control and means for more government waste, higher salaries, and political correctness determined by WHO or WHAT GROUP. I want to be part of the group that says the government need to stay out of my life. Leave me alone!!!!
Climate Change is a HOAX.
Meat Tax: Influential Report Calls For Meat To Be Taxed Like Cigarettes
An influential think-tank with close ties to government has co-authored a report advocating so called meat tax as a means to lower meat consumption worldwide.
Tackling climate change and improving public health can be achieved by forcing consumers to eat less meat in their diets, and it is up to government to force that change, finds a new report. Co-authored by the University of Glasgow and Chatham House, one of the world’s most influential think-tanks, the paper claims “our appetite for meat is a major driver of climate change”.
Finding global meat consumption has reached “unhealthy levels” and cutting consumption is key to “keeping global warming below the ‘danger level’ of two degrees Celsius”, the paper calls for urgent government intervention. Far from being a potentially fatal move for democratic governments around the world, the report findings insist the public won’t actually react badly to the State taking meat off the table.
The changes and government intervention should be packaged and served up to the public in the same way punitive taxation and gradual banning of tobacco products were,reportsThe Guardian.
Speaking on the findings, report author Laura Wellesley of Chatham House said: “Governments are ignoring what should be a hugely appealing, win-win policy.
“The idea that interventions like this are too politically sensitive and too difficult to implement is unjustified. Our focus groups show people expect governments to lead action on issues that are for the global good. Our research indicates any backlash to unpopular policies would likely be short-lived as long as the rationale for action was strong”.
The report itself lists strategies governments can implement to get the taxes past voters, many of which would be familiar to the anti-tobacco lobby. Top of the recommendation list is to frame the taxation as a measure to pay down the cost of treating meat-related healthcare costs in socialised heath services, such as Britain’s NHS. The report says government, the media, the scientific community, and “responsible business” should all be mobilised in unison to change public opinion against meat.
“Positive associations with nutrition” and meat in nations like the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the low cost of meat and “social norms that promote meat eating” would all have to be overcome in order to usher in the changes, the report noted.
The paper emphasises the importance of campaigns against meat coming from “trusted sources”, and as government is often distrusted by the general population there should be a reliance on “experts”. One example of consumer confidence in meat having been dented by the proclamations of such experts has been observed in the past month after United Nations body the World Health Organisation released a major report on the health impacts of processed meat.
Although widely criticised and derided as being unreliable, the linking of bacon, sausages, and red meat to cancer had a distinct observable effect on consumer behaviour. According to latest industry figures, bacon and sausage sales fell by £3 million in the two weeks following the report release.
Regardless, if governments can be sufficiently persuaded by the Chatham House report that they start to implement policy to phase meat out of regular diets for the sake of combating climate change without significant backlash, they may be in for a nasty surprise. Breitbart Londonreported last week on the trailblazing example set by one major Scandinavian hotel chain, which announced it would be no longer be serving pork bacon and sausages for breakfast as a means to help prevent climate change after coming under pressure from the chain owner’s wife – a globe trotting climate campaigner.
Despite offering a green, “plant-based” alternative to breakfast bacon, the chain suffered significant backlash and loss of custom, and just a week later announced they would be bringing back meat. Chain spokesman Camilla Bergman said of the change:
“We at Comfort Hotels view ourselves as the small hotel rebel who wants to challenge the traditional.
“The response from guests shows that we very much did just that. Though many praised us for the measure, the visitors’ feedback clearly emphasised that they still wanted bacon. Therefore we are bringing back the bacon”.
A group started to address the situation at D211 concerning Privacy in locker rooms and bathrooms
*** District 211 Community Alert **
The District 211 Board of Education is scheduled to take formal action regarding the complaint filed by the ACLU with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) regarding access to the girls’ locker rooms by a male student who identifies as female. You probably have seen the news coverage as it has become a national story.
Call to Action:
** All interested parents/community members are strongly encouraged to come to the Special Board Meeting THIS Wednesday, December 2 at 6:45 pm
According to the posted agenda, there will be a public comment period before the Board is scheduled to take a vote to go into closed session. We encourage you to address the Board and voice your opinion on this crucial matter.
****If you are unable to attend the meeting, please email the board members and Supt. Cates directly with your requests on this matter:
Who We Are
We’ve started a grassroots group of parents called D211 Parents for Privacy. Our mission is to protect the basic privacy rights of ALL students in District 211 in both the locker rooms and the bathrooms. We provide a win-win solution. Our goals are as follows:
1. Our elected representatives on the Board of Education should not settle with the OCR. Since our request to make the settlement agreement available to the public has been denied, we don’t know what’s in it, but there is plenty we already do know. If the agreement calls for any access to the locker room, even so called “restricted access” with the condition of using a privacy curtain, we are advocating a NO vote.
In addition to the locker rooms, we are addressing the bathrooms as well. The bathroom decision was made with zero input from the community, had not been discussed in open session at a Board meeting, and many of us didn’t even know the bathrooms were open access until this all became so newsworthy.
What we Know For Sure
Any access, even so-called “restricted access” with the condition of using privacy curtains, still does not protect the basic privacy rights of minor girls in the locker room. It only addresses one part of the equation. The female students are undressing/dressing while someone of the opposite sex is allowed to walk by. Their basic right to privacy is clearly being violated. *We are told, from very reliable sources within the locker room, this is already happening.* The Administration denies it is happening. But we believe this is what’s in the settlement agreement.
Allowing students to use opposite-sex restrooms and locker rooms seriously endangers students’ privacy and safety, undermines parental authority, and violates other students’ free exercise rights. The dangers are so clear-cut that a school district allowing such activity would clearly expose itself to real legal liability.
(There have also been recent cases of schools altering these types of overreaching policies because of very disconcerting issues that occurred under these new misguided policies. http://www.dailywire.com/…/university-toronto-dumps-transge…)
We hope to see you on Wednesday.
WE URGE YOU TO FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO YOUR FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND NEIGHBORS LIVING IN D211, AND ASK THEM TO SHARE IT AS WELL.
Any questions, please email:D211ParentsforPrivacy@gmail.com
The president soothes anti-Western grievances at great cost
By James A. Lyons – – Thursday, November 19, 2015
While France remains in a state of shock over the ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris, they are also most likely confused and disappointed over President Obama’s declaration that there will be no fundamental change to his current policy and strategy to “now contain and defeat ISIS.” During his Nov. 12 remarks in Antalya, Turkey, Mr. Obama appeared to be petulant and arrogant when responding to legitimate reporter’s questions, perhaps a “crack” in the carefully constructed veneer that has concealed his true character and now has been exposed. However, on Nov. 17, The New York Times editorial board quickly came to the rescue by declaring that Mr. Obama “hit the right tone” in his remarks.
But his remarks should leave no doubt that he has a far-reaching strategy. That strategy is embedded in his declaration to fundamentally transform America. Actually, the way we are restricting our operations in the Middle East today has its roots in America’s transformation. Those who say the administration is incompetent — are wrong. With the complicity of our congressional leadership and the mainstream media, the administration has executed their strategy brilliantly.
In order to understand Mr. Obama’s strategy, you first have to understand the threat that has been deliberately distorted. When President Erdogan of Turkey was prime minister, he said it best — Islam is Islam. There are no modifiers, such as violent extremism. Democracy is the train we ride to achieve our ultimate objective, Mr. Erdogan implied, which is world domination. It must be understood that Islam is a political movement masquerading as a religion. The Islamic movement will seize power as soon as it is able.
No matter how many times “progressives” try to rationalize or accommodate perceived Muslim grievances, the fact remains that Islam has been involved in a struggle for world domination for over 1,400 years. What the world witnessed in Paris, and certainly here in America on Sept. 11, 2001, was a continuing clash of civilizations between Islam and the Judeo-Christian values of the West. As the noted historian Samuel P. Huntington implied, Islam is fundamentally incompatible with Western values and cultures. There can be no peace or co-existence between Islam and non-Islamic societies or their political institutions. Clearly, there must be a reformation of Islam.
Once the Islamic threat has been exposed and understood, then any thinking American should be able to grasp Mr. Obama’s strategy. It is anti-American; anti-Western; but pro-Islamic; pro-Iranian; and pro-Muslim Brotherhood. This raises the question: Why would an American president with his country’s Judeo-Christian heritage, who professes to be a Christian, embrace Islam? Or for that matter, why would an American president embrace Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, which has been at war with the United States for over 35 years? They have caused the loss of thousands of American civilians and military lives.
Also, why would an American president embrace the Muslim Brotherhood, whose creed is to destroy America from within by our own miserable hands, and replace our Constitution with seventh century Shariah law? They have been able to penetrate all our national security and intelligence agencies. Consequently, they have had a major impact on our foreign and domestic policies as well as the way our military is restricted on fighting our wars.
It is not possible to list all of President Obama’s executive orders and policies that have imposed undue restraints on our military forces and first responders, but illustrative of those are the following:
• The unilateral disarmament of our military forces. This makes no sense when we are being challenged throughout the world.
• Compounding the unilateral disarmament issue is the social engineering that has been forced on our military to satisfy an ill-advised domestic agenda. It has adversely impacted the military’s moral fiber, unit cohesiveness, integrity and most importantly the “will to win.”
• The purging of all our military training manuals that links Islam with terrorism. Our forces are being denied key information that properly defines the threat.
• Emasculation of our military capabilities by imposing highly restricted Rules of Engagement. It makes our military look ineffective.
• Curtailment of Christianity and its symbols in our military, e.g., restricting the display of the Bible.
• Making our military forces in the Middle East either ignore or submit to the atrocities authorized by Shariah law, tribal customs and traditions, e.g. wife beating, stoning, sodomizing young boys.
• Unfettered immigration with open borders, plus seeding Muslim immigrants throughout the country.
• Shifting sides in the Global War on Terror by supporting al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood militias, and facilitating the removal of all vestiges of secular rulers who were in fact our allies in the war on terror.
When President Obama gave his June 4, 2009 speech at Cairo University, co-hosted by Al-Azhar University, the center of Sunni doctrine for over 1,000 years, he stated, “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” that said it all. Again, when he spoke at the U.N. on Sept. 25, 2012, after the Benghazi tragedy and stated that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” — case closed. Andy McCarthy, author and National Review columnist, made a compelling case for Mr. Obama’s impeachment in his book, “Faithless Execution.” Clearly, the president has exposed where he stands when the issue is Islam versus our Judeo-Christian heritage. Certainly, the case is there to be made for his removal from office for his illegal, unconstitutional and treasonous acts.
• James A. Lyons, a U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.
China is establishing its first military base in Africa, according to a top U.S. general, providing yet another sign of its growing reach beyond the Asia-Pacific.
“They are going to build a base in Djibouti, so that will be their first military location in Africa,” U.S. Army Gen. David Rodriguez, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, recently told defense reporters.
There has been speculation for years that China might establish a base in Djibouti. Rodriguez said China has signed a 10-year contract with the African nation.The base, he said, would serve as a logistics hub for China to be able to “extend their reach.”
Setting up a military base in Africa makes perfect sense given China’s vast economic presence in the region, said J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council. The base would be cheaper than China’s current, temporary arrangements that allow for docking ships at Djibouti ports to conduct naval patrols, he said.
The base also gives China an airfield that could significantly improve its intelligence gathering capabilities over the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Eastern Libya and well into Central Africa.
The move into Africa represents a challenge to the dominance of the United States, which has its own military base in Djibouti, at Camp Lemonnier, from which it conducts intelligence, counter-piracy and counterterrorism operations.
“U.S. global leadership is predicated heavily on the U.S. role in protecting and to an extent controlling sea lanes of communication,” Pham said. ”If China establishes itself as a fellow protector of the global commons, then it certainly increases its stature.”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, said the U.S. has to be vigilant in the face of China’s growing ambitions.
“Overall, China’s presence in Africa is certainly something we need to pay more attention to, but not just in Djibouti. Africa’s middle class is growing faster than ever, and the continent offers great opportunities for partnerships between both governments and the private sector,” Coons said.
“We don’t want to lose out on those opportunities to Chinese companies or the Chinese government, whose interests might not always align with ours,” he added.
China has recently signaled its desire to extend its military presence to more parts of the globe.
In a May white paper, China said its army would “adapt itself to tasks in different regions, develop the capacity of its combat forces for different purposes, and construct a combat force structure for joint operations.”
China said its navy would “gradually shift its focus from ‘offshore waters defense’ to the combination of ‘offshore waters defense’ with ‘open seas protection.’ ”
The move into Africa follows what U.S. officials consider increasingly aggressive behavior in the South China Sea by Beijing, centered on a series of man-made islands that China claims are sovereign territory.
The U.S. has begun stepping up “freedom of navigation” exercises in the South China Sea to ensure China does not use the disputed ownership of the islands to restrict access for planes and ships.
The U.S.’s top commander in the Asia Pacific region, Navy Adm. Harry Harris, over the weekend admonished China for its aggressive posture the South China Sea.
“For decades, China embraced Deng Xiaopeng’s philosophy for addressing disputes. Essentially, be patient. China’s recent actions, though, appear to be walking away from Deng’s desire to ‘find a solution acceptable to all.’ In fact, China has transitioned from a patient nation to a nation in a hurry,” he said at the Halifax International Security Forum.
For now, China’s activities in Africa do not appear to be provocative, with their troops participating in a United Nations mission and the training of African military officials, Rodriguez said.
But Pham said even a small military presence in Africa could later turn into something greater. In 2008, then-President George W. Bush invited three Chinese warships to participate in counter-piracy missions around the Gulf of Aden.
That has now grown to more than 50 Chinese ships temporarily docked at a port in Djibouti, he said.
Dan Proft presents “An Upstream Idea”. With the release of the dash cam video for Laquan McDonald, it is clear that with the Chicago Democrat power structure, justice is delayed so that political ambitions are not denied.
That is the chant of those protesting the shooting death of Laquan McDonald at the hands of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke.
They have a point but it’s not the most important one.
If it is system change they seek beyond justice in the McDonald case, they should be chanting, “13 months!”
13 months is how long it took from the night of McDonald’s death to the day of Van Dyke’s indictment.
Were it not for a few seconds of video from a dash cam and a judge’s decision to make that video public, you can be sure we would still be waiting for a dispensation of the case.
With the Chicago Democrat power structure, justice is delayed so that political ambitions are not denied.
The McDonald shooting occurred six weeks after Ferguson and four months before Rahm’s re-elect.
The investigation was slow-walked.
Then came the hush money in the form of a preemptive $5 million check from the city to the McDonald family, a highly unusual move since no lawsuit had been filed, predicated on an agreement not to release the dash cam video.
But an independent journalist wouldn’t play along. So Rahm’s professional stonewallers battled a journalist’s FOIA request for the video even though they knew it was a public record just as is a police report or a mugshot.
Then it was Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s turn to dither as her re-election cycle, including a March primary challenge, was in the offing.
And every step of the way the panoply of Chicago Democrat pols and their corporate financiers spanning the racial spectrum were silent in support of Rahm.
Keep that in mind when you see the aldermanic feudal lords, the Mike Madigan roll call reps, and the cash-and-carry storefront ministers expressing outrage now that it is politically safe to do so.
Cops protecting cops is the myopic view of the last 13 months.
The discerning observer sees this properly as a textbook case of the Chicago Democrat power structure protecting the Chicago Democrat power structure.
This is not a conspiracy.
It is simply the Chicago political culture where it is the rule of men not the rule of law.
It is simply the Chicago political culture where people’s lives are important only insofar as they may be means to the political ends of the Chicago Democrat power structure.
Perhaps instead of organizing another conference for speechifying, another candlelight vigil for praying or another protest for chanting, now is the time to distribute petitions for recalling.
For years the Hammond’s property has been sought after by federal agencies. The federal government is now using the federal court system to take their land. They have been tried in a federal court as terrorist, fined $400,000 and must give over their ranch to the BLM if they sell, the must report to federal prison for five years, after already fulfilling their sentencing. All because they started a prescribed burn just like they did every year.
Please contact these representatives to help the Hammond’s right now, we cannot wait.
State Representative Cliff Bentz (R)
900 Court St NE H-475
Salem, OR 97310
Phone: (503) 986-1460